Kill the word "content" in content marketing.

Kill the word ‘content’ in content marketing

Content marketing has been the new “it” thing in marketing for a few years now, but many people don’t understand the term.

Why? It’s the word content.

It’s broad and meaningless, vague and confusing. Yet, somehow, it’s everywhere. And, whether we I like it or not, it’s working.

What is content?

A quick background on content marketing

The idea with content marketing is that it’s a softer sell than traditional marketing.

Rather than using clever copywriting beautiful visuals and big “buy now” buttons, the content marketing approach focuses on what could be useful to the customer.

The goal is to acquire long-term customers and draw them in through interesting, well, content.

Which brings me to my next point: What is content?

Content can be just about anything.

It could be this very blog post.

It could be a YouTube video.

It could be tweets, Facebook posts, Instagrams, or a Tumblr.

In the B2B world, it’s more likely to be a white paper, infographic, ebook, webinar, or guest blog post.

And that’s just a sample of what the content in content marketing could be.

How do we define content?

Dig through the dictionary definition and buried in the middle of the second definition, content is classified as “information made available by a website or other electronic medium.”

So content is information. Digital information.

Accurate enough, but not at all specific.

To define every form of online publishing as “content” is to not define it at all.

And there lies the problem. At the end of the day, the content is question is just another form of marketing.

If an advertisement, an email, a tweet, an about page or even a full-length feature film put the content in content marketing, than what are marketers doing when they’re not using content?

The origins of content marketing

All this is is the next phase of the brand as a publisher trend, which isn’t that new either.

Brands have been publishing (see: content marketing) as far back as the 1950s, when Jell-O handed out recipe books to American housewives.

Which really just means that brands are spending marketing dollars on writing, video production, graphic design, and whatever it takes to get their message out in there in the new mediums that the Internet provides. Which is basically just marketing – digital marketing.

It helps that the biggest web companies are backing the trend big time.

Google continues to update its search algorithm to focus on interesting, timely, relevant content; in part by penalizing bad content. Just read up on the Panda 4.1 update.

This is great, especially for online news organizations from the New York Times to Buzzfeed, which are constantly churning out new articles, photos, and videos – a consistent flow of fresh, compelling information and entertainment.

Add in the fact that Facebook is favoring link posts in the news feed while downplaying cat videos and clickbait, and the online ecosystem is continually being shaped to favor higher quality…well, content.

Even TV is all about content

It wasn’t so long ago that TV just stunk. Ruled for the last decade by reality shows like Survivor and Jersey Shore, we’re onto a new era where everybody wants to be the new HBO: a premium brand constantly focused on a quality product.

All of this is great for consumers – Netflix is worth paying for because almost entirely because of original content like of House of Cards. But there’s that word again: content.

Kill the word content

It’s nice to have a trend that is win-win for brands and consumers. I just wish we had a better name for it.